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UW’s Jackson speaks with Education Dive about ways to help students graduate

August 15, 2017

Education Dive earlier this month posted an interesting report headlined, “Nearly half of prospective college students don’t expect to graduate.”

The report begins: “A pair of recently released surveys suggests that half of the nation’s high school students feel academically unprepared for college, while half of the students entering their postsecondary education are anxious that they may not graduate, suggesting a variety of stressors could keep them from attaining a diploma.”

And among the experts turns to in an effort to put this topic in perspective is Jerlando Jackson, UW-Madison’s Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education.

The article notes how concerns incoming students have about their college career can be a significant challenge for higher education institutions in supporting students when they arrive in school and throughout their college career.

Jackson, the director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory, explains to Education Dive how colleges and universities that recognize how important a student’s first year can be can assist students in crises of academic preparation and confidence.

“You see that in places where there are Summer Bridge programs in place, a real orientation where they talk about the key aspects of the transition process, and they have first-year student programs and initiatives and support services to recognize the real challenges in place,” says Jackson. “That first-year experience is very critical.”

Jackson also tells Education Dive how cost realities should be taken into account, saying that there were a variety of ways that someone could be adequately prepared and educated to procure a high school diploma, but that would not adequately prepare them for college, which can be expensive.

“In that regard, you begin to unravel some real financial realities. To prepare somebody to go to college is a very costly endeavor,” says Jackson, who is a faculty member with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and a faculty affiliate of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE). “More critically, it is a different mindset for all those involved, from parents to teachers, to students and the whole community.”

To learn much more about Jackson’s thoughts on this hot-button topic, check out the entire report for free on this web page.

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